Plight of get-denied women gets worse

The plight of women denied gets, Jewish bills of divorcement, in Israel's Orthodox rabbinic courts is worsening, cautions Dr. Aviad Hacohen, dean of the Shaarei Hamishpat Law College, in Hod Hasharon, and an expert on Jewish law. His warning follows the late October decision by the Supreme Court denying a petition to bar the appointment of 15 ultra-Orthodox men to the religious court system. "The religious courts are more reactionary than ever," asserts Hacohen. "The trend is to sideline liberal rabbis and promote those who are loyal to Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv," the politically powerful ultra-Orthodox spiritual leader, well into his nineties, who served on the rabbinical court till 1972. "Israel's treatment of women in the religious courts is our badge of shame,'' says Hacohen, who filed the petition on behalf of several women's groups. The new judges were appointed last May by a special committee with an ultra-Orthodox majority. It was headed by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, who voted with the majority for reasons of political expediency and included the two chief rabbis, two rabbinical high court judges, a government minister, two Knesset members, and two Israel Bar Association attorneys, one of them a woman. The committee was thwarted by its more liberal members from not convening for four years, creating a judicial backlog. For full story please subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here to subscribe.